Dr. Kyle: Can Changes in Weather Predict Pain?

 

 

I always thought my grandma was crazy when she’d say I can “feel” a storm coming as she’d rub her knees. To my surprise, her knees were often better at predicting the weather than our local news. How come?

It’s believed that changes in barometric pressure can lead to increases in musculoskeletal pain. In particular, for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. But what’s surprising is most of the research is either inconclusive or there’s little evidence to support these claims.

After hearing a number of my patients describe similar changes in pain levels due to the changes in weather, I thought I’d take a further look at these claims.

In one survey by Von Mackensen et al., one to two thirds of patients with rheumatoid arthritis believed their symptoms were weather-sensitive (1).

Other studies found an increase in barometric pressure or a drop in ambient temperature are both associated with an increase in pain (2).

At first glance it appears there may in fact be some credible evidence to support this strange phenomenon, but why?

Joint Pain in Scuba Divers

Have you ever swam to the very bottom of a pool in the deep end and felt your ears pop? This sudden change in pressure is similar to what scuba divers experience but on a smaller scale.

Sudden changes in tissue gas tension surrounding the joints can cause fluid shifts and interference of joint lubrication. When divers go deep, their joints may hurt as there’s not as much fluid surrounding their joints. This becomes worse if severe osteoarthritis exists (3).

Why Your Joints Hurt More on Colder Days

Colder temperature and its association with increased pain is much easier to explain. We know that cold temperature reduces inflammatory markers, changes the viscosity of the fluid in our joints, and can decrease the strength and support of our muscles around joints (4). Patients tend to experience more severe joint pain during the cold winter months.

Show Me Your Search History and I’ll Diagnose Your Pain

I still recommend an in-person consultation but we’re close to this becoming a reality. A recent study found an association with local weather and rates of online searches for musculoskeletal pain symptoms.

Searches for arthritic related symptoms are significantly more common in climates closer to -5 degrees Celsius than 30 degrees Celsius. Although this doesn’t explain WHY osteoarthritic patients suffer more pain, it gives us a better idea of WHEN they experience worse symptoms and under WHAT conditions (5).

Well there you have it folks. There are still many uncertainties and unknowns on why joint pain increases when the temperature drops or pressure rises. But if you can sense the next snow storm or torrential downpour from your knees and not the news, you may be experiencing some underlying osteoarthritis.

1. Von Mackensen S, Hoeppe P, Maarouf A, Tourigny P, Nowak D.
Prevalence of weather sensitivity in Germany and Canada. Int J
Biometeorol. 2005;49(3):156-166.

2. McAlindon T, Formica M, LaValley M, Lehmer M, Kabbara K.
Effectiveness of glucosamine for symptoms of knee osteoarthritis:
results from an internet-based randomized double-blind controlled
trial. Am J Med. 2004;117(9):643-649.

3. Compression pains. In: US Navy Diving Manual. Revision 4 ed. Naval
Sea Systems Command; U.S. Government Printing. 1999:3-45.

4. Golde B. New clues into the etiology of osteoporosis: the effects of
prostaglandins (E2 and F2 alpha) on bone. Med Hypotheses. 1992;
38(2):125-131.

5. McAlindon T, Formica M, Schmid CH, Fletcher J. Changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature influence osteoarthritis pain. The American journal of medicine. 2007 May 1;120(5):429-34.

Dr. Laura: 6 Causes of Hip Pain

Slow to move, can’t get up out of the chair, or have pain or stiffness in the hip when walking?  You may have one of these six hip concerns.

What causes pain in the hip?

  1. ™Bursitis
  2. Tendinitis
  3. ™Osteoarthritis
  4. ™Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  5. ™Ankylosing Spondylitis
  6. ™Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
athritisresearchuk.org

What can be done about hip pain?

Bursitis: Bursae are jelly-like sacs that provide cushion between tissues such as bone, muscles, and tendons. Sometimes bursae get irritated with repetitive activities that overwork the joint.  Inflamed bursae are very painful. Classic symptoms are pain when rising from a chair and pain down the front of the thigh. Homeopathy, acupuncture topical ligaments and anti-inflammatories may all be helpful.

Tendinitis may be in just one side of the body, or both. Tendons are thick bands of tissue that attach muscles to bones. Exercising too hard without a proper warm up, or overuse of the joint can lead to pain and immobility. It is important to have the concern addressed as soon as possible to prevent long term mobility issues from the scar tissue from build up. Tissue work, natural anti-inflammatories and acupuncture can be very helpful.

Osteoarthritis (OA) doesn’t have to be a right of passage of aging. There are things that can be done to slow the wear and tear on the joint and actually help restore the proper function of the cartilage that cushions your hip bones. OA can happen on just one side of the body in one joint. Treatment is longer term and can involve diet and lifestyle adjustments and possibly some supplementation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition. This means that the body is attacking its own tissues. Classic symptoms are worse in morning on rising and better with movement. RA usually happens equally on both sides of the body.  One way it can be diagnosed is with blood work to see if there is a rise in the RF (Rheumatoid Factor). Anti-inflammatories will be helpful, but it is important to address the root cause of the autoimmune condition, and this often begins in the gastrointestinal tract. Naturopathic medicine is fantastic for getting to the root cause of an issue.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is another autoimmune condition. Ankylosing means fusing and spondylitis means inflammation of the spine. Symptoms include  a stiff, inflexible and painful spine and/ or hip area. In AS, ligaments and tendons as well as the bones are damaged. New bone is often formed in response which is thin and fragile and may grow together. Diagnostics include ANA blood factor and HLA_B27 genetic testing. Acupuncture and botanical medicines can be very helpful to reduce the immune system response in tissue, reduce inflammation and maintain strength and mobility.

Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE). The classic presentation is a triad of fever, joint pain, and facial butterfly type rash in a woman of childbearing age should prompt investigation into the diagnosis of SLE. Since SLE is an autoimmune disease affecting  many different tissues, something the symptoms can be body wide and unique for the individual, but one of the most common reasons at first is joint pain, including the hip. Diagnostics for SLE involve multiple factors; more information may be found here.  As many factors in SLE present, the naturopathic doctor can piece together the picture and begin the process based on clinical presentation and blood work. Many factors in natural medicine can reduce symptoms of SLE.

From the heart and research of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

Joint Pain? March 29th Seminar

Move past your pain! Complimentary seminar on Wednesday March 29th.  Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND shares some of the natural approaches to manage the inflammation that causes joint pain and what therapies may be considered to repair and reverse the damage.

Many different conditions can lead to joint pain:

  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • bursitis
  • gout
  • food sensitivities
  • strains and sprains

Joint Pain Educational Seminar:

Wednesday March 29th, 2017 2:30- 3:30pm 

Nature’s Signature Guelph (Seminar to be held at the Starbucks inside the Metro store at the corner of Edinburgh and Stone – 500 Edinburgh Rd. S. Guelph)

Call 519.822.8900 to Register. 

This seminar is intended for educational purposes only and does not provide individual medical advice.